It’s not all fun and games in space. Usually, there’s a lot of work to be done. One of the important things that the Space Shuttle is used for is to carry satellites into space and release them into orbit around the Earth. Satellites are machines that orbit the Earth and are used for taking pictures, sending telephone or TV messages, or relaying radio broadcasts. They also do other more complicated things.

This astronaut here is holding a toy satellite. Let’s see what happens when he tries to “launch” it.

VISUAL 10 (movie): Gyroscope—no spin

As you can see, it just flip-flops around, and that’s not very good for launching a satellite. He has to do something else so that the satellite remains stable. Now I’m going to pass out some toy satellites to each of you to see if you can figure out what that something is. Each satellite has a point or a tip—see if you can get the satellite to stay on its tip without holding on to it.

Ask everybody to get a clipboard and pass out tops. Encourage them and try to avert frustrations, until most of them understand that you need to spin the tops for them to “stand up”.

So, what we see it that we need to spin our toy satellites so they stay on their tip and remain stable. That’s exactly what our astronaut will do next with his toy satellite under weightless conditions.

VISUAL 11 (movie): Spinning Gyroscope

Now let’s see what a real satellite launch looks like.

VISUAL 12 (movie): Satellite Launch

First we open the cargo bay doors. Next, we see this woman—whose name is Sally Ride and was the first female American astronaut in space—and she has a lot of controls and equipment so she can spin the satellite. Now we can see the satellite being launched into space. And we can see it spinning, just like your toy tops!

DIGITAL EFFECT: Visual Satellite
Show the positions of all visual satellites in orbit around Earth natively in the software.